Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search


Big News: Sentencing and Parole

Big News with Dave Crampton

Sentencing and Parole: Forget the judges - fear the Parole Board

Now that the Sentencing and Parole Reform Bill has been passed, convicted and sentenced offenders will be more wary of the New Zealand Parole Board than any court judge.

All new prisoners are now eligible for parole after a third of their sentence. Previously automatic parole was granted after two thirds of their sentence. Judges will be handing down sentences as punishment for crimes, knowing full well that the Parole Board will be reviewing and overturning these sentences based on whether an offender is at risk to the community. Prison, instead of being a place for punishment, will now be a place to shield offenders from society. Parole, instead of a reward for good behaviour is now a system used to protect society from the worst offenders and release the rest earlier. This may save the government a bit of money as most people will not be in prison for as long as they used to be.

To get parole, all a violent offender has to do is stick out a third of their sentence then convince the New Zealand Parole Board that they will not be at risk to the community, irrespective of any aggravating factors taken into account by a judge. Previously prisoners had to show that they were reformed before being paroled. If the parole board considers a prisoner is not a threat to society, parole is a prisoner’s right – reform or no reform. In reality this means most violent offenders will be let out of jail earlier, and if they are not reformed and convince the parole board that they should be paroled, this will lead to more offending on parole.

You have to ask what provisions are put in place to stop reoffending on parole? The answer: Well, none actually.

Yet when 90 percent of voters were questioned on sentencing for violent offenders, nearly all wanted tougher sentencing, and associated parole provisions. Since the election, violent crime has increased 14.9 percent and the government has thumbed its nose at those who want tougher sentencing and, apart from the most violent criminals, given more power to a parole board and less power to the courts.

But the new legislation will ensure tougher sentencing for hardened criminals who have not convinced a parole board that they can be released. These criminals may serve their full sentence and judges, at their discretion, may impose minimum terms of up to two –thirds of a sentence.

Although suspended sentences are a thing of the past – they never worked anyway – this bill allows for an extension of an application to deal with situations that suspended sentences previously dealt with. This includes adjournments or postponements of sentences to allow people to remain in the community to show that they can reform. Of course the lawyers win here as this provision will result in an increase in legally-aided lawyers paid for by the taxpayer.

The Government has also set aside $90 million of out tax in additional expenditure to cater for the expected 350 increase in the prison population. Maybe they think the Parole Board will not parole most prisoners after a third of their sentence.

But what about the victims of crimes? What rights do they have? Well, none, actually. They will feel less safe as they know the person who burgled their house and raped their daughter may get out of jail earlier. That’s because we don’t have a justice system any more – we have a legal system and the law is an ass.

© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>



Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>


Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news